Innovation must start from national and corporate interests

VCN - Dau Anh Tuan, Head of Legal Department of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) talked to a reporter from Customs Magazine about the project “Reforming the model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods”.
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The new model must immediately bring real benefits to businesses

What do you think about the reforms of specialised inspection work (KTCN) recently?

As a leading agency, the General Department of Customs has taken reform measures for specilaised inspection activities for import and export goods in line with the Government’s guideline on reducing specialised inspection procedures. Therefore, this work has been highly appreciated by the business community as there have been positive initial results, the rate of imported shipments subject to specialised inspection before customs clearance has decreased and the time for specialised inspection procedures in many areas has also reduced significantly.

In the Report on Business Environment Reform Program: From Business Perspective published by VCCI, firms assessed that specialised inspection is one of the few areas which has been reformed strongly in 2020 and an area that has seen continuous improvement over the years.

In particular, the project “Reforming the model of quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods" is also highly evaluated by VCCI and the business community for its usefulness and positive impact. During the drafting, the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) expressed the solicitous inquiry and consulted with stakeholders before finalising and submitting to the Prime Minister for approval.

As for you, how will the reforms in this project affect the export and import activities?

The project has introduced many major reform solutions to solve the current shortcomings and inadequacies in the specilaised inspection work. The reforms on specilaised inspection not only aim at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the State's management on the specilaised inspection, but also derive from the legitimate interests of the business community. From the business side, the project is expected to reduce inspection agencies, reduce time, reduce costs, and reduce risks for import and export activities. But firms also expect that after the reform, the new model must be better and immediately bring real benefits to businesses.

What is the motivation for the relevant agencies to implement the reforms under the above project?

Although there have been many reforms in the specialised inspection, this work still has many shortcomings that must be further improved and revised. Also according to the VCCI’s report on business environment, the procedures for commodity group 2 subject to quality inspection like steel, electric fans, etc. must be improved, due to the requirement on applying for registration at the metrological branches of provinces and cities before making declarations.

In addition, businesses also said the application of risk management principle in the specialised inspection is still almost not implemented or implemented with single criteria and difficult to meet. No items will be removed from the checklist or transferred from import inspection to circulation inspection in 2020.

The current project on specialised inspection is in the direction of clarifying processes and procedures for specialised inspection as well as clearly defining the leading agency and responsibilities of agencies in the process of handling procedures for enterprises. In particular, the project also proposes the transformation of methods of quality inspection and food safety inspection for risk management. If enterprises comply well, then strict inspection will change to normal inspection, from normal inspection to reduced inspection by item to minimise the shipment that must be inspected. These are all very important reforms that make the settlement of administrative procedures faster, more convenient and more transparent for businesses. This also creates motivation for businesses to try their best to comply with the laws to reduce costs and time upon customs clearance.

VCCI will accompany in the implementation of the project

For such impacts to really come to businesses, what solutions are needed?

Perhaps the most difficult and sensitive problem of the project is coordination and delimitation of scope, tasks and powers between the Customs and specialised organisations. In my opinion, the most important principle is to stand from the general point of view of the national and corporate interests. If a new process is more effective, cuts time and costs and better attach responsibly for the management agencies, etc., it is necessary to follow that process. We often exaggerate assumed negatives to hinder the trend of positive changes and to preserve the private benefits.

The change of Decree 38/2012/ND-CP to Decree 15/2018/ND-CP in 2018 of the Government detailing the implementation of a number of articles of the Law on Food Safety can be a good example. Previously, there were many concerns about changing management from pre-inspection to post-inspection, applying risk-based management, etc., which would create loose management.

But after more than three years of implementing Decree 15, more than 90% of administrative procedures have been reduced for businesses in this field. Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long publicly stated that the reduction does not make food safety decrease, but strengthens State management.

In addition, according to the VCCI's research, when developing regulations on items subject to specialised inspection, inspection criteria, along with risk management mechanism (exemption and reduction inspection), it is necessary to ask ministries, agencies, drafting agency to present real figures on percentage of infringing goods. If these figures are not disclosed, those items must be excluded from inspection. We will continue to accompany the Ministry of Finance, including the General Department of Customs, and ministries and agencies to carry out the project on specialised inspection for the benefits of the business community and the economy.

By Huong Diu/ Huyen Trang

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